Local Family Worried for Relatives in Japan

March 11, 2011 Updated Mar 11, 2011 at 7:38 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

March 11, 2011 Updated Mar 11, 2011 at 7:38 PM EDT

(Grand Island N.Y.) For Satomi Smith, her husband Dr. Joshua Smith PhD, and their daughter 2-year old Miana, it has been a long and anxious day.

Satomi is a native of Fukui in central Japan. Her parents still live in Fukui and her sister lives in Tokyo.

The Smith family just moved to Grand Island one month ago after living in Japan for the last 12 years.

"We sort of panicked," says Dr. Joshua Smith when they learned of the massive earthquake that devastated Japan.

The couple immediately tried to telephone friends and relatives but with no success.

They then tried an internet networking program called SKYPE.

It worked.

Family in Fukui reported that everyone was safe but that Satomi's sister, Naomi Sakai Takayama in Tokyo, had been rattled by the tremors.

"My sister described it as the worst shake of her life . . . and she was scared," says Satomi Sakai Smith.

The Sakai family in Japan say most people were in school and at work when the earthquake hit. Tokyo's transportation system was shut down - forcing tens of thousands of people to take to the streets in order to walk home.